Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dramatic Atmospheric Stuff

Lately the hot steaminess of our weather has been punctuated by some muy grande thunderstorms.  On Tuesday I was standing at our living room window, looking out on our soggy front yard (the haphazard occurrence of rain is much appreciated) when I heard a loud boom of thunder and our lights went out. Moments later I saw a brilliant flash, followed by a boom that was loud enough to shake the house and activate one of the kids toys, which proceeded to play a muffled song from somewhere deep in one of their toy piles.

Lightning had struck the tall pine by our front gate, leaving its trunk scarred with a long vertical gash.  Aside from a strip of missing bark it remained erect and more or less intact, and I'm hoping it will survive its electrocution.  After two major hurricanes we've lost enough trees already.

In the aftermath of the lightning strike the rain stopped and I went outside to look around.  Storms often produce interesting fly-overs, but this time I was disappointed by the absence of any air traffic worth mentioning.  On the other hand, our Great Crested Flycatchers were being unusually vocal, and later that evening I heard the buzzing song of a Northern Parula, probably the same one I'd heard singing on a couple of other occasions in recent days (they are common summer residents of the nearby swamps, but in our neighborhood we get them mainly as spring and fall migrants).   As far as birds are concerned we are in the summer doldrums, and there isn't much to report.  At night I've heard a Barred Owl calling a couple of times, but otherwise it's been the usual cast of characters.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hot Weather, Bugs, and a Few Birds

Summer is here, with all its heat, humidity, and bugginess.  Apparently airborne insects see me as a kind of bipedal landing strip (or filling station, in the case of the mosquitoes).  Twice today I also had that old familiar burning sensation...some fire ants just wanted to say hello, and watch where you're stepping...

My mom, who lives in California, came to stay with us for a week, and brought a couple of her great-grandchildren with her (at 77 she is raising a two-year-old boy and four-year-old girl).  We did some local sightseeing and took the kids to the beach one day (no oil coming ashore here...yet).  Needless to say I haven't had much time for birding lately, but on Saturday afternoon I noticed a Mississippi Kite circling over our neighborhood, and a few days earlier, while driving home,  I saw an adult Swallow-tailed Kite flying over Pine Island Bayou, the dividing line between Jefferson and Hardin Counties.

White-winged Doves continue to crowd our feeders, which also attracted a Common Grackle on Saturday.  A pair of Brown Thrashers in our yard this weekend were the first I'd seen here in a while, and from their open gapes appeared to be a bit heat-stressed.  The other day I also noticed a gray squirrel sitting on our Yankee Flipper, brazenly enjoying a snack without consequence.  The battery had died.  I'm recharging it now, so he'll be in for a surprise next time.